The History of the Mackay Historical Society
The formation of the Mackay Historical Society came from the foresight of one man Mr. John Renton of Walkerston who decided to convene a meeting of interested persons with a view of creating a historical society to preserve and promote the wealth of history in the Mackay district.
The inaugural meeting was held on Thursday 10th August 1972 at 7.45pm at the Australian Sugar Producers Association boardroom in Wood Street, Mackay. Present at the inaugural meeting were Mesdames B. Wright, N. Smith, I. Renton, J. Smith, W. Manning, R. Collins and Messrs. N.H. Smith, H. Goode, G. MacDonald, J.H. Williams, F. Rolleston, R. Manning and J. Renton.
The inaugural Committee Officers of the Society were G. MacDonald (President), J.H. Williams (Vice President), K.J. Renton (Honorary Secretary), Mrs. B. Wright (Treasurer). Mr Thomas A. Cook of Greenmount Homestead was nominated to be the Societies first Patron of which he accepted and held the position until his passing in November 1981. A decision was moved to call the Society the "Mackay Historical Society".
The Patron Mr. Cook attended the second meeting of the Society held on 14th September 1972 and "kindly allowed the Society the use of the Block of the Fig Tree planted by Captain Mackay at Greenmount (now Greenknoll) between 11 January 1862 and 31 July 1862." This block of the tree has been included as the logo of the Mackay Historical Society ever since.
In 1974 the Society led by Mrs Berenice Wright was instrumental in helping to save the Old Mackay Hall from destruction to be kept for the community.
In 1981 The Society's Patron Mr. Thomas Cook passed away. Following his death his widow Mrs. Dorothy Cook arranged to bequeath "Greenmount Homestead" to the community of Mackay as a homestead museum. The grounds were handed to the Pioneer Shire Council and the contents to the Mackay Historical Society with the Society to manage the homestead as a local history museum for the people of Mackay. Greenmount Homestead was opened to the public on 1st September 1984.
The Society undertook its first strategic plan in 1995 to seek the direction of where the Society and Greenmount were heading. It was apparent that there was a need to preserve the Homestead and its collection but this required more resources than the Society could muster.
A Greenmount Management Committee was formed in 1997 consisting of a partnership between the Society, Mackay City Council, Qld Department of Environment and Heritage and the National Trust. This committee was successful in obtaining a grant of $838,000 to restore Greenmount Homestead and preserve the collection. However as a result of this it was evident the Society would have to move its own collection to a location closer to the City and be a separate entity to the Homestead.
The Society relinquished direct day to day management of Greenmount Homestead to the Mackay City Council in October 2001.
Since the move from Greenmount Homestead, the society's archives and collection were in storage till a shed was built on a site in Casey Avenue in South Mackay. The old single man's quarters originally from Marian Mill was moved from the grounds of Greenmount Homestead to the present address in Casey Avenue for the society to use as a museum. With the complete refurbishment of the old building, the members have for 18 months prepared the collection including cataloguing and preservation in readiness for the opening of our new museum in April 2004. Stage 2 of the complex in Casey Avenue will see Mackay's first genuine museum devoted to the collection and interpretation of Mackay's rich history.
Past and Present Committee members of the Society
1972-Nov 1981 - Mr. Thomas Albert (Tom)
1972-1974 - Mr Graham MacDonald
1972-1974 - Mr. John H. (Jack) Williams
Past Honorary Secretaries
1972-1980 - Mr. K.J. (John) Renton
1972-1975 - Mrs Berenice D. Wright
Past Publicity Officers
Past Honorary Librarians
1984-1985 - L. Shaw
Past Research Officers
1985-Oct 1996 - Mrs. Betty Clark
Past Society Photographers
1985-1987 - Mr. Jim Clark
Past Assistant Secretaries
1986-1988 - Miss Margaret Tyerman
Past Chairperson/ Duties Manager/ Liaison Officer of Greenmount Homestead
1990- - Miss Gloria Arrow
Past Building/Maintenance Officers
Past Committee Members
1994-1995 - Mr. Graham Harvey
Past Minute Secretaries
Apr 1996-1996 - Mrs. Margaret Berry
1996-Mar 1998 - Mr. Glen Hall
Storage and Conservation Officer
- Mr. Dale Murray
© Mackay Historical Society and Museum